A Technique for Brainstorming Content Topic Ideas, Fast

I consult and write for a client (let’s call him “Jim”) who produces direct mail newsletters for professionals. You know, the kind you might be receiving regularly from your dentist or investment advisor.

Jim is admirably proactive. He insists on getting the newsletters written waaaaay in advance. In fact, he’s not satisfied unless he has six months of issues in the can.

Well, you can guess where this story is going!

Along comes the pandemic and half those newsletter articles aren’t going to work. Suddenly, my client is in panic mode and asking me to come up with new ideas for article topics. Fast. (Fortunately, that’s a task I’m pretty good at.)

If you’re a freelancer or in-house marketer who manages a blog or e-newsletter then, chances are, you’re knee-deep in the same struggle. The editorial plan just went out the window and you need new content ideas, but quick.

The good news is, there’s a simple technique for brainstorming content topics.

But before I walk you through that technique, keep in mind that a good topic for a blog or newsletter must meet two criteria.

  1. It must be of high-interest to your target audience.
  2. It must position you (or your client) as a go-to provider of what you do or sell.

If your blog post or newsletter article doesn’t check those boxes, then it’s unlikely the piece will get noticed or read.

So, here’s the technique…

First, think about your target audience. If you have a buyer persona handy, pop that up on your screen.

Next, think about what that person’s world is like right now. What challenges are they facing? What goals are they eager to achieve? What pressures are they under? What’s on their front-burner today?

Then, brainstorm a list of topics likely to be helpful to them. Think about tips you can share, stories that might inspire them, insights they can take advantage of, information they need, lessons you can teach them, ideas they can run with, how-tos you can walk them through, and so forth.

Make a long list. Don’t stop until you have at least ten decent ideas.

Once you have those, go through your list and cross off any topic not related to what your company does or sells. There’s no sense publishing a blog post on how to make the ultimate blueberry muffin if your company does big data consulting.

Finally, go through your list and circle those remaining topics that are of high-interest to your audience. Notice I didn’t say “of interest”. High interest. Zero in on those topics likely to gain your audience’s attention and get them clicking and reading.

This brainstorming technique only takes a few minutes. Yet, chances are, you’ll come up with at least a few topic ideas for your blog or newsletter that are golden.

Give it a try. Let me know how it works for you.

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